Today Boucheron is a French luxury jewellery and watch house, but began as a family dynasty, founded during the heyday of the Second French Empire by Frédéric Prudent Boucheron in 1858. He opened his first shop in the Galerie de Valois, at Palais-Royal and then created his atelier in 1866. In 1893 he became the first jeweller to open a boutique on the Place Vendôme, choosing no. 26, so the legend goes, because it was the sunniest and therefore sparkliest corner of the square. He believed that the diamonds in the windows would scintillate all the more brilliantly.
This is a jewellery house which has provided us with many intriguing designs over the years, such as the necklace without a clasp. In 1879, Frédéric Boucheron and the head of his workshop, Paul Legrand, invented this revolutionary piece. It was admired by the members of the jury at the 1889 World's Fair, who awarded Boucheron the Grand Prix for an outstanding jewellery collection.
The stories arising from the archives of Boucheron are plentiful and indeed colourful. One of the most fascinating ones must for sure be the tale about The Maharajah of Patiala, Bhupindar Singh, and his entourage of forty servants in pink turbans. In 1928 he arrived in Paris to commission the largest special order in the history of Boucheron.
The Maharajah of Patiala, Bhupindar Singh
This giant of a man stood at 6'7", and was famous for his grand taste for jewels. No one knew which jeweller would be presented with the job until the door at Boucheron was pushed open and The Maharajah and his Sikh guards, carrying six mighty iron safes, entered the showroom where they were met by Frédéric Boucheron’s son Louis. In the many safes were diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls, and what a vision that must have been! One can only imagine such a dream scenario. Louis came up with 149 designs; jewel set collars, multiple-strand pearl necklaces, belts covered in precious stones, sautoirs, bracelets, head ornaments, turban ornaments and aigrettes. These unforgettable designs have been the inspiration behind the collection ‘New Maharajahs’ now reinvented for the 21st century.
Boucheron has always been associated with royalty and celebrities. Our very own late Queen Elizabeth II received an aquamarine and diamond double clip brooch for her eighteenth birthday in 1944. She would continue to wear these sentimental designs throughout her reign, and owned a collection of Boucheron jewels.
Queen Elizabeth II Wearing Her Aquamarine & Diamond Double Clip
In Both Brooch & Clip Forms
It still remains to this day very much a luxury jewellery house with creative director Claire Choisne in charge. She has been with the house since 2011, and ensures each collection honours the famous house's history and values. The Boucheron family believed that to build a reputation as a great jeweller, one must incorporate the finest gemstones and it is that legacy that is being preserved.
Details are being cared for and special stones are set innovatively, all with the ghost of yore keeping a watchful eye, ready with guidance and critique in equal measures, and wouldn't this be a nice thought though.
From Paris, with love.